The final round of group stages for the 2019 Copa Libertadores has arrived. Ten clubs have punched their tickets to the Round of 16, however, a few of South American soccer’s biggest still have their fates hanging in the balance. It will be do or die as the final six knockout spots are reserved. Here we take a look at five of the biggest matches of the final round and you can catch all the action exclusively on beIN SPORTS.
Gremio (BRA) vs. Universidad Catolica (CHI) – Group H
Wednesday at 6:05pm ET live on beIN SPORTS
This may be the match of the round. There will be everything to play for on Wednesday at the “Arena do Gremio.”
High-flying Libertad of Paraguay have guaranteed a knock-out stage berth with 12 points in group H, leaving Gremio and Universidad Catolica – currently in second and third place, respectively, with seven points apiece – to fight for the other spot out of this group.
It has been an underwhelming season for Gremio so far in the Libertadores. A semi-finalist last year and winner in 2017, the Brazilian side came into this year’s tournament as one of the major favorites. However, their Libertadores results have been anything but favorable. Although Gremio won the “Campeonato gaucho” (Porto Alegre’s state tournament) against rival Internacional, fans will not be pleased if that’s the only title of the year.
Gremio are coming off of an insane Brazilian Serie A match this Sunday against Fluminense that ended in a 5-4 loss. Gremio fans will have to hope that match did not fatigue the team too much. Wednesday evening will prove to be a huge battle.
The last time these two sides faced each other, the Chilean club came out on top with a 1-0 victory. Coach Renato gaucho will need big performances from Everton Ribeiro and Luan if Gremio wants to advance to the next stage of Libertadores.
Penarol (URU) vs. Flamengo (BRA) – Group D
Wednesday at 8:20pm ET live on beIN SPORTS
Group D in Copa Libertadores is wide open. Flamengo and Penarol are first and second, respectively, in the group with both teams on nine points. Third-place LDU Quito, however, is breathing down their necks with seven points.
Should LDU Quito get a win at home against last place San Jose, the Ecuadorian side will have 10 points. In the case of an LDU victory on Wednesday, the loser (if there is one) between Flamengo and Penarol will be knocked out of the tournament.
There are six Libertadores titles between Flamengo and Penarol and both fan bases demand nothing but excellence from their club. A group exit from Copa Libertadores is not on the agenda of either side.
Such an early exit would be an especially awful look for Flamengo, as the club spent an exorbitant amount of money (for a Brazilian club) this offseason with signings like Rodrigo Caio, Giorgian de Arrascaeta and Gabriel Barbosa.
Boca Juniors (ARG) vs. Athletico Paranaense (BRA) – Group G
Thursday at 8:20pm ET live on beIN SPORTS
Last year’s runner-up, Boca Juniors, have not been having a good go of it this year in Copa Libertadores. One of soccer’s most fabled clubs finds itself in a sticky situation on the final day of the group stage. Boca are currently in second, however, a big loss this week and a big win from third place Cerro Porteno, could prove to be the end of Boca’s 2019 Libertadores.
Boca Junior’s rival comes in the form of the surging Athletico Paranaense. After a loss in their debut match of the tournament Athletico Paranaense went on a three-game winning streak. While Athletico does not have anywhere near the same fame and following as Boca, the small Brazilian side deserves the credit for this impressive Libertadores campaign. Athletico will look to return to their 2005 glory, when the club was Libertadores runner-up to Sao Paulo.
Speaking of the defending Copa Sudamericana champion, Athletico have the Recopa to look forward to later this month against another Argentine giant. The first leg of the Recopa will be on May 22nd, where River Plate will visit Athletico Paranaense at the ‘Arena da Baixada’. Another match you can see on beIN SPORTS.
River Plate (ARG) vs. Internacional (BRA) – Group A
Tuesday at 8:20pm ET live on beIN SPORTS
While River Plate and Internacional have already qualified out of Group A, this matchup should never be taken for granted. These two giants have a total of six Copa Libertadores titles between them.
It has been a rough year for the defending champions so far. Juan Quintero’s injury was a huge blow and Marcelo Gallardo’s men started their Libertadores campaign with three consecutive draws before winning their last two and managing to seal that second spot in Group A.
A big home win against a Brazilian opponent might be just what the doctor ordered ahead of knockout stages. That feat won’t be a walk in the park, however, as Inter have been cruising in Copa Libertadores group games, winning four and drawing one. The last time these two played it finished 2-2 and this one should be just as entertaining.
Palmeiras (BRA) vs. San Lorenzo (ARG) – Group F
Wednesday at 8:15pm ET live on beIN SPORTS CONNECT 4
Palmeiras have been incredibly consistent throughout this year’s Libertadores campaign. As the defending champion of Brazilian Serie A and a semifinalist in last year’s Libertadores, Palmeiras had been labeled as a huge favorite to do big things again this year. So far so good for Luiz Felipe Scolari and company as the club from Sao Paulo has dominated Group F with relative ease. In five Libertadores matches Palmeiras has produce four wins and one single loss.
That one loss came against San Lorenzo of Argentina, which happen to be Palmeiras’ rival again this week. San Lorenzo is currently second in Group F, trailing Palmeiras by two points. San Lorenzo has also been consistent and produced solid performances through this group stage. Both sides are through to the Round of 16, but the seeding is on the line and Palmeiras will look to get revenge as they hold onto that top group spot.